BE QUIET!

April 25, 2010

To a child, the words “be quiet” are subjective. That is, the interpretation of the words often vary from a parent’s definition.   When a parent says, “BE QUIET!” they are really saying, “Please, can you use a soft voice.”  However, the interpretation of “be quiet” to a two-year-old boy, for example, is to speak loudly instead of very loudly.   The funny thing is, these two words, when spoken by a parent, are usually said like this: “BE QUIET!!!!!”  This is opposite to the decible you are asking the child to emulate.

Instead, I like to use the word whisper, and I say it in a small soft voice. I say it like this: “Shhhh, whisper.”  Whisper is an active word that leaves little interpretation for a child.

So next time you are about to say, “BE QUIET!” try saying, “Whisper,” instead. It only takes a few reminders for a child to get the whisper concept.

Note: This is another example of being proactive rather than reactive.  Read my post here.

Another note: I wish I would known this when first had a child.  It’s taken me quiet a few children to get this concept so learn from my mistake.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss CarlyNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 11:20 am

Ooh I like that! I tend to use ‘Inside Voices’ when in a setting. But I like the idea of saying ‘Whisper’ in a whispered tone. Will try it out when I do the internship!

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Do tell me how you get on.

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DebbieNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I tend to say ‘Inside Voice’ as well, but that can also be a bit ambiguous. And yes, I’m guilty of “BE QUIET!!!” Which totally defeats the purpose of asking the children to be quiet. Great idea to use ‘whisper’. (Actually, I might be using that one a lot today!)

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Don’t worry Debbie, I’ve done the BE QUIET! thing many times too. And then I’m like, what am I doing?? lol

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AlissaNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Someone commented to me the other day how interesting it was that my entire family all say “that’s an outside noise” followed up with “voice down please”. I guess some things just get “ingrained”… but I really like “whisper”… will have to try and remember that one! Thanks Kelly.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Sounds like you are doing an awesome job Alissa. :D

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MichelleNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Generally…not always… my chidlren keep their voices at an ok level inside because I’ve always said… ‘shhh little voices inside please.’
I remember learning very early in my parenting that to tell the child what is expected rather than what you don’t want is a better way to do it.
hence… shh whisper please will always work better than Be quiet.
Love that you’ve brought this back into my thoughts.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Well, you must be a faster learner than me. lol. My poor first child. HA! You are an awesome mother Michelle. I love following your journey. Thank you.

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KatherineNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Ohh i am definitely going to be writing these down for when i have kiddies :P

No seriously, that is a super smart idea. You could be an australian super nanny :) Or super mummy :)

Hope your having a great long weekend..

K xx :)

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 11:33 pm

You are too sweet Katherine with a K. You are a very insightful girl and I am so glad to have met you. xx

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The Original SuperParentNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm

It’s always great to be diplomatic and sensitive, and I like the wisdom of your post. Most of the time I’m trying to walk that path too. When I mess up however, I reason with myself that life is a mixed bag, and kids will have to learn that there are times when they’ve got to understand what you mean as opposed to what you’ve said. Young kids that are too literal sometimes drive me nuts! :-)

BTW – Kels, you not only can be an Australian super mummy, you can also think of becoming a SuperParent!!! ;-)

Okay, I’ll keep quiet now.

Cheers,

Colin

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I like the balance you have brought to this Colin. Tis true that children need to learn how to ‘read’ into things (that may have to be another post). When I was chatting to my 9 year-old daughter (she asked me to read this post to her) we were saying that, of course, at her age she didn’t need that sort of clarification; however, for my four-year-old and two-year old It’s very effective.

HA! I’m not a super Mum for sure. I’m just your average Mum doing the best I can (aren’t we all?). Because I believe Motherhood has value, it’s something I’m putting a lot of mental energy into. You seem to be doing the same Colin.

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Colin WeeNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm

@Kelly Be A Fun Mum,

I’m talking with Deborah from Preschool Professional and was discussing with her the effects of certain terms or words used on children and their ability to learn, and the respective roles of parents and teachers. I suppose it’s better to err on the side of gentleness and diplomacy. I would of course encourage the eventual broadening of a child’s exposure to the richness of verbal (and non verbal) communication in time. For instance, my two god children have parents who are highly conservatively; therefore I take it as my role in life to joke, tease, tickle, and chastise them frequently. It adds to their ability to deal with different people and to understand the context of the words. :-)

Cheers,

Colin

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Colin, you sound a lot like my husband. ‘Joke, tease, tickle, and chastise them frequently’ is right down his alley. I bet your God-children love it!

It’s been great to have these interactive conversations! Thank you!

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Colin WeeNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

@Kelly Be A Fun Mum,

After the initial shock of disbelief and the quaking-in-their-boots at the thought of meeting Uncle Colin, they now take me with a HUGE pinch of salt and we all get along very well. In fact, I’m sure I entertain them with my antics. I can’t express how extremely proud I am of this. :-) Colin

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm

And so you should! Good job Uncle Colin!

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BookChookNo Gravatar April 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Someone told me once that by loudly saying “Don’t RUN ACROSS THE ROAD”, we make our kids hear “.. run across the road”. I don’t know how true it is, but I really like what you’re saying here about proactive vs reactive. It’s tempting to just react, but being proactive takes some thought until it becomes a habit.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 7:09 am

That’s interesting Susan. Because I beleive in the value of Motherhood, it’s something I’m willing to invest a lot of mental space in. I’m not quite at the ‘habit’ stage yet lol. But I’m certianly trying.

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StaceyNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 6:12 am

Love it, definately adopting your whipser words of wisdom! Keep doing what you’re doing, its FAB! Thanks for sharing x

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 7:09 am

Thank you Sunny Stacey. Right back at you lovely lady.

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StaciaNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 8:37 am

It’s so much easier to yell “quiet” than whisper “whisper,” isn’t it? It’s so much easier to raise our voices period than think of more effective, more thoughtful ways of influencing our children’s behavior. In my most effective whispering voice I say, “Thanks for the reminder.” =>

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Oh yes Stacia, you are right. It’s so much easier just to react and so much harder to think about it first. This is something I still struggle with. Thank you for commenting :D

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AlexNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I am definitely a “whisper sweetie” kinda mama although when that doesn’t work I move to the finger over my lips and when that doesn’t work my eyes go buggy and I say through clenched teeth: bring your voice down NOW
But in my son’s defense, the first one often works.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Good on you Alex! I too, find it works first time… mostly. I love the finger of the lips. Just this morning, I visited my sister in hospital with my two year old son. Whenever we walk into the ward he puts his finger over his lips and whispers, “Shhhhh.” He does it out of his own volition; It’s so cute.

I’m off now to pop over to your blog. See you there!

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Colin WeeNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Kel, I’ve done a follow up post on this topic at Do You Hear That? BE QUIET! Enjoy. :-) Colin

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I’ll check it out Colin. :D

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Kathryn RoddaNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm

so true. I am at the moment watching my voice level. With 3 boys under 4 it can get noisy and I tend to have to raise my voice to get them to do anything, but this week my challenge has been to do things and speak like my dear late Aunty who was always so gently and softly spoken. I have not raised my voice at all in 3 days and am very proud of myself, and the bonus is that the boys are quieter too. They still get noisy, but I am noticing a huge difference in their level of play and talking noise. I also used to work in childcare for 10 years, and I still say some things that I said at work like ‘quiet voices inside’ and ‘walking feet inside’ – funny thing is that my oldest boys are copying that during the day and their play. It makes you very aware of what you are saying to them.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm

WOW! 3 days, good going. I’m always amazed at the parents who always talk quietly. I come from a big, fun and loud family. I love this; however, sometimes we just end up yelling over the top of eachother to our children lol. I think: there has to be a better way.

Keep on keeping on and let me know how you go.

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The Original SuperParentNo Gravatar April 28, 2010 at 1:02 am

@Kelly Be A Fun Mum, you may want to check out a semi-relevant post One Voice in the Preschool Classroom. Cheers, Colin

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Kathryn RoddaNo Gravatar April 28, 2010 at 8:22 am

@The Original SuperParent, That was interesting to read and so true. When I was working, the majority of my years was with under 2′s, and I usually made it a rule that during group time my assistant sat with the children, usually one or two on her lap :) This I found helped this age group as there was no other distraction by her doing odd jobs (of course, sometimes this was necessary, but I tried to minimise it) and she could whisper or tap on a shoulder to keep their attention. I can see how it would work well with the older age groups.

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Colin WeeNo Gravatar April 28, 2010 at 11:44 am

@Kathryn Rodda, I think the ‘one voice’ concept works well for older kids. I remember many instances where it was way easier guiding a group of children as opposed to just one or two children: on group camps, my son’s birthday party, etc. At periods where I’ve got to dig deep, I look to my memories of my Army instructors and draw inspiration from them. It’s not all about volume, but speaking clearly and providing them good positive direction. It’s when you try to bend them to your will negatively … that’s when it becomes much harder to control them. Colin

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar April 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Great read. Interesting, it made me think of the military. The established role of command is extremely important for communcation.

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MaidInAustraliaNo Gravatar July 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Oh Wow. So simple … I never thought of that and can’t wait to try it xo

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MaidInAustraliaNo Gravatar July 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Your message here

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